CUNA Mutual Teams Up With Esurance

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MADISON, Wis.-CUNA Mutual will expand its car insurance options in the first quarter of 2011 through a new partnership with Esurance.

The Esurance coverage will be available as part of CUNA Mutual's MEMBERS Auto and Homeowners insurance program, which already offers car insurance through a 12-year-old partnership with Liberty Mutual. The offering follows demand from credit unions and CUNA Mutual's own sales force for additional car insurance options to help meet the needs of more members, especially younger members.

"We have been looking to expand our ability to write more business, and it was unanimous that we needed to better serve all members," said Shad McKinght, VP-consumer products with CUNA Mutual. "The single-carrier platform made it hard to meet the needs" of all members.

In particular, Liberty Mutual, which currently offers insurance to more than 500,000 CU members, has an "underwriting appetite" for consumers who are older and more established, and are often multiple-car households and homeowners. That position leaves a sizeable gap among less-established consumers, and in particular younger consumers who make up Gen X and Gen Y.

"We had a gap in the emerging market," said McKnight. "Esurance is geared toward younger adults and people who like to shop for and purchase insurance online."

A subsidiary of the White Mountains Insurance Group, Ltd., Esurance is a direct-to-consumer car insurance company with more than 500,000 policyholders. The company launched its website in 1999 and has grown to be the third most recognized brand among online consumers, according to Greenberg Brand Strategy.

Esurance already has a well-established website at esurance.com, but McKnight said that development is underway to create new online landing pages that will include customized credit union branding as well as that of Esurance, which McKnight referred to as "gateways."

Marketing, as well as underwriting of new business, is to begin in Q1 2011.

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